We cruised with Carnival on the Victory after sailing with Royal Caribbean 5 times in a row, so I had some expectations going in that did not get satisfied however, overall you get out of anything what you put into it so, we had a great time.
Embarkation: Please, somebody tell somebody at Carnival to separate out those that have prepared to travel with those who have not... if you have all of your paperwork filled out, go to this line; not prepared, go to that line. This may train people to be more prepared.
Ship and crew: Difficult to get around without a map (and there aren't any), the shopping seemed boring and uninspired same ol' same ol', the photographers couldn't seem to focus their cameras, the casino was great but some of the staff was pushy and rude, typical overtly aggressive drink vendors, and the ship was clean but not sparkling clean. The decor and color pallet is dark, I think the decor is better suited to the Mexican Riviera than the Caribbean. The staff was friendly if you engaged them however, overall they didn't go out of their way to engage you in pleasant conversation or even say hello in the hallways as you passed... strangely distant.
Fellow passengers: This was a pleasant surprise for me... I found a great mix of people from all walks of life, all ages, and not too many of one group or another, and except for the one cranky group of old folks in Jamaica that don't comprehend "Island Time" all were friendly and wonderful to be with for a week.
Security: What seems odd to me is that security would even be a question in this day and age... getting on and off was easy, even lax at times. On board we had a group of individuals across the hall from us that were smoking Cannabis day in day out for 7 days and even after we informed security, nothing happened! We had 3 cabins Lido deck forward, port side, and it never stopped smelling of pot. This is unacceptable... to top it off one of the staff in the casino had to ask me not to smoke a cigar, but I guess smoking illegal substances is allowed?
Food: The food was good. The wait staff was hit or miss, ours was just ok. (I missed the excellent dining room service I get on Royal Caribbean) The lines people talk about on this ship at the buffet are due to bad design, try to eat at off times. Great deli and Oriental stations.
Entertainment: Here is the area that this ship shines (except for the number of activities and Cruise Director.) The shows, singers and dancers, and main activities staff are excellent! The quantities of activities are surprisingly low and the Cruise Director Dana belongs on and Old folks cruise to Alaska, not on a "Fun Ship" in the Caribbean... oh my is he irritating!
Overall, a "good" time especially for 1st timers who haven't experienced or appreciate the finer things other lines provide. I am really looking forward to my 2 cruises in 2006 on other cruise lines. Expect to get what you pay for, a 3 Star experience.